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American Anthropologist--AD Wants You (Back)

Geoff A. Clark

The Archeology Division (AD) of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) is looking for "a few good men and women" who continue to subscribe to the broad, holistic, anthropological perspective in which all of us have received our training. Over the past decade there has been a substantial loss of membership in the AD due to (1) the proliferation of narrow, sectarian interests in the AAA since its 1984 IRS-mandated reorganization, (2) the loss of a sense of direction since the 1992 Executive Board restructuring, and (3) the postmodernist turn taken since 1994 by the former editors of the flagship journal, American Anthropologist. These historical contingencies have resulted in the perception by many SAA archaeologists that AAA is no longer interested in nor relevant to their concerns, and that the American Anthropologist contains little of significance to mainstream Americanist archaeological research. SAA archaeologists should be aware that these very real concerns are no longer relevant to the AAA of the 21st century, nor to the place of archaeology in the larger organization.

Mindful of these considerations, and the fact that AAA had lost the ability to speak as a single voice for all anthropologists, the Commission to Review the Organizational Structure of the American Anthropological Association was established in 1996 to investigate ways to change the structure of the organization to restore the traditional emphasis on the fields that comprise the intellectual core of the discipline (archaeology, biological anthropology, social-cultural anthropology, and linguistics) and, more generally, to make AAA a more effective voice for the anthropological community as a whole. That proposed restructuring was presented to the AAA membership last fall and was overwhelmingly approved by a general vote this spring. The restructuring insures the Archeology Division a permanent place on the AAA Executive Committee, and a permanent voice in the deliberations of AAA. The change constitutes a shift from what I would describe as a "primitive democracy" toward what Tim Earle (Northwestern) has likened to a U.N. Security Council model, with the traditional subfields always represented, and with the various other positions elected from the membership at large. Archaeologists are eligible to run for, and be elected to, these positions.

Restructuring the Executive Committee is only one of a number of sweeping conceptual and organizational changes that have taken place recently within AAA. Perhaps most important for SAA members is a new, revitalized, restructured, and "user-friendly" American Anthropologist, under the able editorship of Bob Sussman (Washington U), where archaeologists of all persuasions will, once again, find a place for their research in the flagship journal. John Clark (BYU) and I are on the AA Editorial Board, with a third archaeologist to be named shortly. The AAA secretary is an archaeologist--Carole Crumley (UNC). The new executive director, Bill Davis, is firmly committed to anthropology as a science-like endeavor, grounded in the same kind of philosophical and methodological materialism that underlie all of Western science. These changes mean that those archaeologists with a philosophical committment to the holistic ideal of anthropology as an integrated discipline will once again find themselves at home in the larger organization.

As benefits of membership, AD archaeologists receive the American Anthropologist, the Archeological Papers of the American Anthropological Association (an ad for No. 7 appears on page 29) and the Anthropology Newsletter, now bigger and better than ever before under the able editorship of archaeologist Susan Skomal. Annual dues are $145 for regular members and $70 for students. If you are interested in joining (or rejoining) the Archeology Division of the American Anthropological Association, contact Member Services, AAA, P.O. Box 91104, Washington D.C. 20090-1104, (703) 528-1902, ext. 3031, fax (703) 528-3546, email, web

Geoff A. Clark is chair of the Archeology Division of the American Anthropological Association.

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